Epson, Sony, BenQ Projectors for 4K / Contrast Review
Epson EH-LS100, EH TW8300, TW9300 "4K" TV / Home Cinema Projectors
Many AV makers claim unbelievable contrast ratio (CR) figures and/or other measurements on their home theatre projectors / 4K TVs.
In this review we'll get to the bottom of it. Epson as the self proclaimed leaders in projection may be the ones others follow?
Sony hasn't taken the Epson big "fake" number bait yet, their 4K VPL-VW520ES quotes 300,000:1 this "Dynamic Contrast" number is still in our humble opinion a useless measurement but at least it's not pushing 3 million:1. The Sony 4K VPL-VW385ES quotes 200,000:1 they mention "frame by frame" not pixel by pixel, we cover limitations of a dynamic iris later in this review.
Epson Australia quote 2,000:1 contrast on some of their most expensive "Pro-AV" projectors and from 1,000,000:1 to 2,500,000:1 for some of their less expensive home theatre EH TW projector models. Measurements come way down on Australian projector models like the EH TW5600 and TW6700 etc. In reality watching images with more than one color the difference is not as great as the figures suggest, even the cheapest projectors are amazing compared to a few years ago.
Why do Epson claim only 2,000:1 Contrast Ratio (this is actually a very good and realistic measurement in real life) on their top 2017 Pro-AV professional projectors? One theory is professionals know better so companies don't bother trying to win them over with unrealistic numbers on the box.
Other Epson models (USA) that quote massive CR numbers are (but not limited to) the PowerLite Home Cinema 5040UBe, PowerLite Home Cinema 5040UB, Pro Cinema 6040UB. Other brands follow where Epson lead so someone (hopefully Epson as market leader) needs to take a stand and start publishing their true ANSI CR.
PowerLite Pro Cinema 4855WU WUXGA 3LCD Projector - "Contrast Ratio: (High Brightness, Dynamic Mode) 5000:1 with Auto Iris on" is a welcome exception.
Mind you Dynamic is not a mode you'll be using for Home Cinema in a dark room plus the iris is not a great help when the image has both light and dark sections.
There are also many business data projectors that Epson quote as 2,000:1 this makes sense as brightness is by far the most important factor in a well lit room.
We'd like Epson Australia as the self proclaimed market leader, or any other company doing the same thing to explain what the moral difference is between emission figures that can only be obtained under special test conditions in a workshop (thus not on the road, remember WV?) and contrast measurements that can only be obtained by projecting just black then just a white screen @ 40-70 inch size?
How are the two sets of measurements (VW emissions / Projector Contrast) not equally misleading if neither can be obtained under normal operating conditions?
It's off to the (CON-trast) Races!
It's not the Size
Epson have informed us it was not the size difference (pointed out via a tape measure in the photo shown 2 above) that concerned them. We stand corrected, the image must have hit some other button by simply showing the two projectors side-by-side.
People like real opinions & demonstrations
You'd have to be very clear about this caveat. We cover in more detail how this could be a problem for Epson on page 3.
Reason for Epson's (and the others?) Wacky CR claims uncovered
Real 4K Projectors vs. lots of pixels, great 4K TV on the BIG screen!
Dumb and Dumber
"Unless you test contrast ratio with ANSI the results are
not sufficiently repeatable or defensible to be useful."
- What are the chances of having test results that's precisely 1,000,000:1 or 2,500,000:1?
- So our question is was it more or less? It can't be precisely that the odds are millions to one!
Anything in the 1m+ CR range in our opinion has nothing to do with real user situations, we weren't impressed with 1,000,000:1 in terms of accurately representing what a projector can do in real life contrast situations. Upping the CR ante to 2.5m:1 makes it that much more unbelievable to us.
Q. Is it honest to use figures unobtainable in real life situations?
- Would that not be the same as quoting 0-100 acceleration times but only down hill?
- What about fuel economy but only in reverse?
- What if you quoted emission figures that can't be obtained on the road? (WV)
We spoke to Epson Australia Business Manager - Projectors (DS) who put us in touch with Epson's Business Development Manager - Visual Solutions (KM) and that's now in the hands of Epson Australia's General Manager – Sales & Marketing Business Division who has been most helpful because now we understand how Epson came about the massive CR readings.
As many staff as projectors? :)
General Manager – Sales & Marketing Business Division provided us with detailed information about Epson's chosen CR testing method. (Test was not made by Epson, just used by Epson as noted in above sections) and thus the reason for testing on a 40-70 inch screen. There are a lot of people working at Epson and you can see how easy it would be for the left hand to not know what the right hand is doing if someone technical had a say in marketing we doubt this review would be written.
We were not amused with the small screen size tested when selling projectors at the high Australian price asked for models such as the EH-TW8300 and EH-TW9300, sold into the 100 inch plus market, but now we know, it's all in the word "office" so simple.
BenQ Australia have provided us with their ANSI test results. No fuss just sent it. Epson have not (so much for transparency) but we think it would be a similar result.
Till Epson do the same we don't think it would be fair to publish one and not the other. What we can say is, as expected the ANSI result is a fraction of on/off or dynamic CR. This makes sense because you're not watching a white screen then a black screen, what you see is a mixture of light levels.
We approached Choice to Independently test for us. Choice stated:
"Unless you test contrast ratio with ANSI the results are not sufficiently repeatable or defensible to be useful.."
We totally agree, that's the way we test also. Epson & BenQ (like most in this space) don't often publish their ANSI CR figures, if they did millions:1 would not come into it, more likely hundreds or a thousand to one, that does not look so good on brochures.
Epson and other brands are not consistent..
Let's keep it real!
For one thing, Epson are not offering true 4K but some of their competitors do.
Dated: 2011/2012 & the wrong test again?
Is there a pattern here?
Epson state in full about the above mentioned marketing data quotation(s):
The ANSI CR test all companies should use!
Speaking of Changing Times
Some newer / more high powered Epson Venue projectors now use a spinning phosphor wheel.
Berlin Demo Review - Epson EH LS-100
*"..There are a couple of important riders I need to add to this hands-on.. ..being used in Epson’s demonstrations with what appeared to be a pretty serious ‘ambient light’ screen from Elite Screens. Getting a screen similarly effective combatting ambient light could set you back another £2,500. So obviously when we review the LS100 fully, we’ll need to see how well its TV-challenging images hold up on a more affordable, ‘normal’ screen. Or even a wall."
New York Demo Review - Epson EH LS-100
"..The picture was sharp (I didn't miss 4K resolution) and bright, although as expected it got washed out when I asked the representatives to brighten the lights. It was installed with a specialized 120-inch screen from Screen Innovations, which cost as much as the projector itself."
Our opinion about demonstrations
If someone purchased a projector not knowing that what they had seen was only possible via an expensive and specialised projection screen then they would be within their rights to return it because their in-home experience was not what they viewed at shows? and/or If they honestly believed (possibly were told) that it was true 4K but it was not, is that the same situation? This is why people need to be very clear in such situations. "Do you want true 4K" (yes) then the Epson ____ is not for you.
We've a lot of information to get out on various brands so please keep checking back page 2 & 3 are under construction..
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